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Women In Art 




Betye Saar 

Born: Los Angeles, California, 1926. Educa- 
tion: University of California, Los Angeles, 
B.A., 1949. Graduate Studies: Long Beach 
State College, California, 1958-1962; 
University of Southern California, Los 
Angeles, 1962; California State University, 
Northridge, 1966; American Film Institute, 
Los Angeles, 1972. 

Selected One-Woman Exhibitions: Multi- 
Cul Gallery, Los Angeles, 1972; Berkeley 
Art Center, California, 1972; University of 
California, Santa Cruz, 1973; California State 
University, Los Angeles, 1973 (catalog 
published); Whitney Museum of American 
Art, New York, 1975 (catalog published); 
Douglass College, Rutgers University, New 
Brunswick, New Jersey, 1976 (catalog 
published: Women Artists Series Year Five, 
1975); Monique Knowlton Gallery, Inc., New 
York, 1976. 

Selected Group Exhibitions: 20 California 
Women Artists, Lytton Center of the Visual 
Arts, Los Angeles, 1968; Contemporary 
Black Artists, Ruder & Finn Fine Arts, New 
York (catalog published; exhibition circu- 
lated nationally 1968-70); Dimensions of 
Black, La Jolla Museum of Art, California, 
1970 (catalog published); 1970 Annual Ex- 
hibition, Contemporary American Sculpture, 
Whitney Museum of American Art, New 
York (catalog published); Contemporary 
Black Artists in America, Whitney Museum 
of American Art, New York, 1971 (catalog 
published); 5: Benny, Bernie, Betye, Noah 
and John, Lang Art Gallery, Scripps Col- 
lege, Claremont, California, 1971 (catalog 
published); Black Untitled ll/Dimensions of 
the Figure, The Oakland Museum, Califor- 
nia, 1971 (catalog published); Los Angeles 
1972: A Panorama of Black Artists, Los 
Angeles County Museum of Art, 1972 (cata- 
log published); Small Environments, Univer- 
sity Galleries, Southern Illinois University, 
Carbondale, 1972 (slide catalog); Dimen- 
sional Prints, Los Angeles County Museum 
of Art, 1973 (catalog published); Black Mir- 
ror, Womanspace, Los Angeles, 1973; Art 
by Women in the Museum Collection, Uni- 
versity Art Museum, University of California, 

Berkeley, 1973; Blacks: USA: 1973, New 
York Cultural Center, New York, 1973 
(catalog published); West Coast 74: The 
Black Image, E.B. Crocker Art Gallery, 
Sacramento, California, 1974 (catalog 
published; also shown at Los Angeles Mu- 
nicipal Art Gallery); Three Women Artists, 
Palos Verdes Art Museum, California, 1974; 
Sixteen Los Angeles Women Artists, Cer- 
ritos College, California, 1974 (catalog 
published); Collage and Assemblage, Los 
Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, 

1975 (catalog published in Journal [LAICA], 
No. 6, June-July 1975); Female Imagery in 
Art, Clark Humanities Museum, Scripps Col- 
lege, Claremont, California, 1975; An Ex- 
hibition in Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, 
Jr., Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, 1976 
(catalog published); Four Los Angeles Area 
Artists, Fisher Gallery, University of 
Southern California, Los Angeles, 1976 
(catalog published); Twentieth Century 
Black American Artists, San Jose Museum 
of Art, California (catalog published); Paint- 
ing and Sculpture in California: The Modern 
Era, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 

1976 (catalog published; also shown at Na- 
tional Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian 
Institution, Washington, D.C.). 


QUASAR'S QUEST , 1976, mixed media assemblage/collage, Betye Saar. 

, Creatine 

Ionian A quarterly, Governors State University, Park Forest South, IL 60466. 

VOL. 2, NO. 1 , SUMMER 1978 

A quarterly published at Governors State University under the auspices of the Provost's Office ©1978, Governors State University and Helen Hughes 


Helen E. Hughes, Editor 

Marian Schuller, Editorial Assistant 

Joan Lewis, Editorial Consultant 

Suzanne Oliver, Graphic Designer 

Betye Saar 


Marilyn Blitzstein, Subscriptions 

Rev. Ellen Dohner, Religion and Philosophy of Creativity 

Dorothy Freck, Science/Journalism 

Harriet Gross, Sociology/Women's Studies 

Helene Guttman , Biological Sciences 

Shirley Katz, Music/ Literature 

Donna Piontek, Social Sciences 

Betye Saar, Fine Arts 

Sara Shumer, Political Theory 

Emily Wasiolek, Literature 

this issue is about 


& some women artists who make 

»makes an imprint. 
The artist 
recycles imprints. 
We reflect 



My selective eye 

is attracted to 


which express duality 



a pushing outward-emergence 

a pulling inward-centered 
an inclusion of history 
of future 
of now. 
a connection to nature. 

of clarity & secrets. 

For the artist 
our images 

are the fruit of our 
creative being. 

Betye Saar 
Guest Editor 
Summer 1978 



... •■;■-: •■:., 

NIGHT RIDERS , 1973, acrylic wash 

It is our woods. 
Whenever we once walked 
Out side of our own realm 
It is our woods. 
Upon one of those narrow 
Trees the marks grew and 
It is our woods. 

Suzanne Jackson 

BUCKETS AND STRAW , Julie Taylor, Richton 
Park, IL., 1977. 

In the manner of many of my photographs, 
the subject matter in this particular 
image represents a fading way of life. 
Simple tools are left to rust while being 
replaced by the megamachinery of the 
-agri -industry. 

Visually I was attracted by the texture 
of the straw and by the soft lighting on 
the forms of the buckets that played 
against the shadowy area surrounding 


Doing art 

Is not the same as making art. 

There is confusion about this 

Even though we all know 

There is doing art and making art 

Which is the difference between 

Homemade and storebought. 

Jodi Gordon 

"Images of people and people-relationships 
have always dominated my work. Also it is 
my personal need to draw, paint and create 
prints which are expressive of my own 
inner emotional life through the use of 
human forms. 

My response to nature was magnified dur- 
ing a recent journey to the Grand Canyon. 

Rock formations brought to mind a group- 
ing of people bound together in common 
history and ritual. However in explor- 
ing this image further, it became charged 
with the impact of an ageless unity and 

struggle between male and female it 

became the painting THE GRAND CANYON." 

' r 

^Betty La Duke 

THE GRAND CANYON , 1976, acrylic painting, 


WOMEN AND CREATIVITY by Joelynn Snyder- 
Ott, Les Femmes Publishing, 1978. 

Joelynn Snyder-Ott refers to herself as a 
"researcher of women's art" and in WOMEN 
AND CREATIVITY she lives up to that claim, 
for the book provides us with much factual 
information about women as artists, not 
only in the present but in the past as 
well . 

The first chapter documents the situation 
that has characterized the art world in 
our century. A sad state of affairs, 
indeed, but as Snyder-Ott says, "We can 
change this situation!" The first step 
is knowledge. Self-knowledge on the 
part of women whereby they will be able 
to "confront themselves emotionally as 
women." The author lists many of the 
outstanding women pafnters in western 
art as far back as the 16th century. The 
list will undoubtedly grow as more re- 
search into the past is undertaken. As 
Snyder-Ott says, "We have a great amount 
of excavation ahead of us. Women's 
historical contributions are buried 
throughout the libraries of the world. 
The time has come to blow away the duSt 
and cobwebs from them, as well as from 
our minds." 

So ends the first chapter. The next 11 
chapters are devoted to this taskj be- 
ginning with the ancient site of Stone- 
henge, England. "Female Iconography at 
Stonehenge" tells of a trip the author 
and her daughter made to this mysterious 
monument of prehistory, and of the emo- 
tional impact it had on them. This 
chapter includes four drawings by the 

Three more chapters are the result of 
Snyder-Ott' s year of residence in 
England. "A View from England" is an 
interesting analysis of the difference 
between the feminist movement there and 
in the United States. "The Feminist 
struggle in England seems to be much 
more of a class struggle than a problem 
which is unique to women." The author 
found England to be "more quietly 
sensitive and non-aggressive" than the 
U.S. and she found the year a memora- 
ble one. Two English women impressed 

her deeply and she has devoted a chapter 
to each. 

Angelina Kauffman though Swiss by birth, 
lived and worked for most of her life in 
18th century England, gaining great 
respect as a portraitest and designer. 
Very different indeed is Englishwomen 
Trude Collinson Baxter, who devoted the 
past 30 years of her life to a collection 
which deals with all facets of birth and 
birth iconography. 

We sometimes think that the feminist art 
movement is a phenomenon of the '70s, but 
in reality it is not so new, for in 1892 
women artists from around the world came 
together to seek representation at the 
World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago. 
In her chapter "A Woman's Place," Snyder- 
Ott recounts the story of that threshold 
of equality. 

Running down the remaining chapter titles 
will suggest the variety of subject matter 
for Women" interviews women students and 
faculty of a small woman's art college. 
"Feminist Art Programs" discusses the 
politics of working with a male establish- 
ment. "Creativity and Procreativity" is a 
description of a show the author had that 
used dancers to interpret her drawings of 
birth and rebirth. "Art as Yin in a Yang 
Society" expounds on the ancient Tao - the 

ideal of the perfect balance between the 
masculine and the feminine qualities. This 
chapter gave me some difficulty for I find 
such statements as, "...the sun and moon 
are considered polar forces, one being 
neither more important than the other but 
complementary..." carry the feminist 
advocacy of the author too far. However, 
there was much food for thought in it, none 
the less. 

Joelynn Snyder-Ott has done a real service 
to her sister artists (and I include myself 
in this group) by bringing to light the 
many women artists who have been obscured 
by time and male historians. I find it 
amazing that in 30 years of fairly close 
attention to the world of art, I had not 
heard of over half of these women. Need- 
less to say, I find this very exciting and 
gratifying. Airtry M(tl<tttC — ' 


"The dolmens with their ragged inner 
edges, all at various degrees of opening, 
not unsimilar to vaginas, were the very 
organic forms I had used in my own work 
as an artist." 

Joelynn Snyder-Ott 

% P 


FEMALE ICONOGRAPHY , Stonehenge series #4. 
Graphite drawing by Joelynn Snyder-Ott 
from WOMEN AND CREATIVITY, copyright 1978. 
Reprinted with permission of Les Femmes, 
231 Adrian Road, Mi 11 brae, CA 94030, 

FRIEDA'S JACKET, 1974, mixed media assemblage, 



"Clothing is vastly important to me. 
Intuitively, I have very strong emotions 
about certain articles of clothing. I 
bought a dark green antique jacket at a 
Goodwill vintage sale. A few days later 
a friend gave me an old photograph of a 
young woman who was wearing a jacket 
that was very similar to the jacket I 
had bought. At a junk store I found a 
letter written in German. The only word 
I could understand was the word Frieda 

which was repeated a few times. It came 
to me that the woman in the photo looked 
like her name was a Frieda and all of 
these elements that had become scattered 
had now come back together and I had to 
assemble them to create an art-work that 
would be like a shrine to Frieda. 

I believe that something of the person 
is retained in the object, I can feel 
their power radiating from the finished 
pieces. They are not forgotten, now." 

Nancy Youdelman 

FRIEDA'S JACKET, 1974, detail 


by Alison Saar 

Minnie Evans was born in Long Creek, 
North Carolina in 1883. While still a 
child she and her family moved to Wil- 
mington, North Carolina where she has 
lived since. Later she resided in The 
Arlie Gardens as a gatekeeper. These 
gardens made an imprint which is appar- 
ent in her art. Evans began drawing and 
painting in 1935 when she was fifty- two 
years old. Since that time she has 
achieved recognition as a notable self- 
taught Black artist. Her works have 
been shown in a number of museums and 
galleries including one person exhibits 
at the Art and Image Gallery in New York, 
The Modern Museum of Art, New York and 
The Whitney Museum of American Art in 
New York. 

Minnie Evans' paintings flourish with 
intense colors and intricate patterns. 
Her canvases have varied from cardboard 
to scraps of paper to canvasboard. Some- 
times she has coll aged scraps of paper 
over the canvas creating various tex- 
tures within one piece. Using water- 
color or oil paint and pen and ink or 
pencil for detail lines, Evans created 
mysterious fantasies. Her mystical 
works contain spirits hiding among 
flowers and leaves. Unknown symbols 
come forth and receed in complex pat- 
terns. Mysterious eyes appear from no- 
where giving the viewer the feeling that 
they are being inspected by the painting. 
Minnie Evans 1 _use of bright colors and 
symmetrical symbols are reminiscent of 
the paintings of Haiti and some contem- 
porary African paintings, all sharing 
a vitality and a power — beyond cogni- 
tion. Evans' sense of pattern and sym- 
metry is much like the configurations 
characteristic of Haitian veves, contain- 
ing spirals, diamonds, serpents, horns 
and stars. Hearts and crosses are often 

Although not a religious fanatic, for 
Evans makes no mention of God in terms 
of her visions and art, her works have 
a strong religious quality. The images 
in Evans 1 painting Come to her in dreams 
and although she herself is unsure of 

the meaning of the images she senses 
their power and importance therefore, 
she paints. 

ALU cm Soon., a f12.c2.nt Qnaduate. ^njom 
ScXippA Cott&gz. Zn Pomona, CatlloH.nla, 
majofizd in 6-tiidio a>vt and. non-wzAteAn 
axt hJj>tony. 


In Praise of Women Artists '76 ( a calen- 
dar) NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, 
Bo-Tree Productions, 2 Casa -Way, San 
Francisco, CA 94123. 


"No one has taught me about drawing. No 
one could because no one knows what to 
teach me. No one has taught me to paint. 
It came to me.... In a dream it was shown 
to me what I have to do, of painting. I 
never plan a drawing. They just happen." 

Minnie Evans 

courtesy of Nina Howell Starr 

UNTITLED, Minnie Evans 



No lands. 

Filament of the mind. 

Plain and modest pencils 
Wheeling little carts 
Dragging hoes back and forth 
Up and down 
Right and left 
Here and there. 
Did I see that? 

Meticulous space threaded with lead 

Virgin paper penetrated with strokes 

Pastel murmurs strummed 

Slow rows of lines 

Planted with crops of unnamed feelings. 

Artist as farmer. 


Irrigated lines and space. 

Shiny young lines 

Shooting tender vari gated runners 

Tendrils spawning 

Lines weaning from space. 

Paper icefloe through line isthmus; 
Geography of an art 
Indelible intention 
Control and integrity 
Performance from a mental model. 

Lines treading space for a trill ionth time 
Watertight as Dasolalee baskets. 

You as Cleo 

Ultimate artist 





Intimate connection 
For the art act. 

There is always someone and something 
Waiting in the wings. 

It is not easy to know 

My eyes have never before seen 

Your simple configuration. 

375 lute strings 

Cracking against paperskin. 

Graceful as a childs prayer 
Drawings are blessings I think. 

Goosedown drawings 

Simple unbusy 

Meaning everything and nothing. 

I confess I use art 
Like a house of mirrors 
To confuse death. 

Joni Gordon 

I am writing you from ho hum Chinese restaurant, 
Even the mustard is wrong. 
But involved as I am 
Here is the fortune: 




"Wagon Wheels" variation.- Rebecca 
Hawley Morton, Warren County, Ohio, 


©®®[K \ft®m®w 

BY OUR OWN HANDS: The Women Artists' Movement, Southern California, 


Faith Wilding. 

by Ruth Askey 

D It is impossible to read Faith Wilding's By 
Our Own Hands and not compare where you 
were and what you were doing during the 
last seven years in California while the Femi- 
nist Art Movement was making its impact 
through all our consciousnesses-raised or 

The book is good. It is succinct, well org- 
anized, and gives a clear historical overview 
of the pivotal events in the California move- 
ment. Any one of the chapters could make 
an in-depth study: Future historians, take 

Successive chapters are devoted to: 

• Judy Chicago's founding of the first femi- 
nist art education program at California State 
University, Fresno, in 1970. 

• June Wayne's "Joan of Art" lectures, a 
seminar on "Business and Professional Prob- 
lems of Women Artists." 

• "Womanhouse,' a collaborative 1972 
work of the Feminist Art Program, Califor- 
nia Institute of Arts. 

• Two landmark shows: "25 California 
Women of Art," which, curated by Josine 
Inaco-Starrels in 1968, identified early some 
of the strongest West Coast women artists- 
Joan Brown, Vija Celmins, Max Cole, and 
Betye Saar, to name a few. "21 Artists: In- 
visible/Visible," curated by Dextra Frankel 
in 1972, identified work by women demon- 
strating female sensibilities. Frankel, Chicago, 
and Miriam Schapiro had traveled through 
California visiting women and choosing 
works, including those of Martha Alf, Elea- 
nor Antin, Sherry Brody, Karen-Carson, 
Judy Chicago, Rita Yokoi, and Connie Zehr. 

• The inception, development, and demise 
of Womanspace and the Grandview Woman's 
Building, intended to "provide women art- 
ists with an alternative to the existing art 
world . . . where they could control all as- 
pects of the art-making process from exhibi- 
tion to criticism." 

• The present Woman's Building on Spring 
Street has its own chapter, as does the Femi- 
nist Studio Workshop, its central institution. 
The founders of FSW-Chicago, Arlene Ra- 
ven, and Sheila deBretteville-describe it as 

a place to "explore alternative ways of intro- 
ducing . . . female perspective into society " 

The book touches on one such alternative 
course-Chicago's current Brobdingnagian 
project, "The Dinner Party." The collabora- 
tive work (50 women) will reinterpret his- 
tory from a feminist perspective. 

By Our Own Hands contains over 100 
photographs. Nancy Youdelman, photo edi- 
tor, amassed group shots that read like a 
Who's Who of local artists. Other photos doc- 
ument everyday events, individual artwork, 
performances, and exhibitions. 

It's a book for artists, historians, and just 
plain photo-lovers. ■ 


"I am interested in the transformative 
power of art. For ten years now, I have 
been researching the myths and images of 
ancient cultures which worshipped a 
female goddess. 

In my work, the metaphor for all this is 
the plant. The image reproduced here is 
called 'The Virgin Goddess' and is from 
my Bird of Paradise series. I use the 
ancient image of the horns of consecra- 
tion, or the goddess with the upraised 
arms in this form, which is half plant, 
half sea-creature and bandaged human 
aspiration. In choosing the hieratic 
gesture, I was thinking of icons. I do 
not worship a god or goddess, but to me, 
all creation, including myself, is 
infinite and holy. 

My aspiration as a woman has always been 
to invent a new language of images which 
can describe the new being of women in 
the world, as well as bringing old 
truths back into new vision." 

Faith Wilding 

... ^ .- - - w ^ v -/ ... 


. .. ~ &: 

. A. V 

THE VIRGIN GODDESS, 1977, mixed media on paper. 



About this issue's Guest Editor: 
a collage of images of BETYE SAAR, 

...a fragrant gumbo stew cooking on the 
stove in the little house in Hermosa 
Beach "Come in. Have some with us. 
There's plenty!". . .Be tye arriving at our 
little house in Manhattan Beach "You 
have a lot of good plants around here. 
Let's move them in front of the adobe 
house," and soon there is a rock garden 
with succulants and cacti .. .our modern 
dance group, putting dance to music and 
to poetry every Friday night. . .sitting 
by the fireplace, talking, sipping wine 
...Betye with paint samples and fabric 
swatches, designing the interior of the 
adobe house. . .Betye, the mother, sending 
two little girls into their room to play 
so that two friends can visit; at the 
first sign of a fuss, "Time to get in 
the tub!" two little girls splashing 
happily in their bath; at the first 
sign of a fuss "Time to get out! Time 
to eat!" .. .gallery openings, exhibits, 
parties at the house nestled against 
the Hollywood hills. . .sitting in the 
camper at night telling voodoo ghost 
stories. . .Betye making costumes for 
the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, going 
as a fortune-teller, a gypsy, a belly 
dancer... a phone call at five a.m. 
"Hello, this is Betye Saar. At O'Hare. 
I'm on my way to Nigeria to take part 
in a Black Artists Conference. I just 
wanted to hear your voice". . .Betye 
sharing her personal notebook of dream 
images: "I'll send you a color xerox 
of that one if you like it" .. .Betye' s 
art constantly changing and growing: 
mystery and rage, humor and anger, 
seizing power from the universe and from 
deep within herself, using her sensitiv- 
ity as a tool, to celebrate experience 
and to defy the coarseness and cruelty 
of the world. 

Thanks, Betye Saar, for the gift of your 
spirit, your stars and moon, for a 
friendship that's lasted over twenty 
years, and for this issue of The 
Creative Woman . 

Helen Hughes 


Fall 1978: Politics and the Study of 
Politics , (women in political theory, 
government, administration, public 
affairs) deadline - September 21, 1978; 
Guest Editor: SARA SHUMER, 2405 McGee 
Avenue, Berkeley, California 94703. 
Readers are invited to submit articles, 
book reviews, photographs, cartoons, 
poetry on the topic to Professor Shumer 
or to the editorial office at Governors 
State University. 


Please send me The Creative Woman for one year. Enclosed is my check, o^Tioney^omer 

for $ . 

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ART: A WOMAN'S SENSIBILITY. Miriam Schapiro, Director, Feminist Art Program, 
California Iastitute of the Arts, Valencia, 1975. 

BY OUR OWN HANDS: THE WOMEN ARTIST'S MOVEMENT. Faith Wilding, Southern California, 
1970-1976. Double X, Box 5302, Ocean Park Station, Santa Monica, CA 90405. 
Softcover, $8.00 plus shipping. 

FEMALE ARTISTS PAST AND PRESENT. Vicky Lynn Hill, Editor. ($6 individual, $7 
institutions) 1974 & 1975 Supplement. Women's History Research Center, 
2325 Oak St., Berkeley, CA 97408. 

1976, 314 pp. 

J.J. Wilson. The Women's Press, London, 1978. Women in Distribution Inc., 
P.O. Box 8858, Washington, D.C. 20003. 

WOMEN AND CREATIVITY. Joelynn Snyder-Ott, Random House, New York, 1977. 


CLAIRE FALKENSTEIN: SCULPTOR. Jae Carmichael, Producer/Director, 1978. U.S.C. 
Film Library, U.S.C. University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90007. 

Women's 1 History Research Center, 2325 Oak St., Berkeley, CA 94708. 

THE ORIGINALS: WOMEN IN ART. Perry Adato Miller, Producer/Director, WNET/13 N.Y. 

Distributed by Films, Inc., 1144 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, IL 60091. 

Georgia O'Keefe, 60 min., color, 16 mm & videocassette. 

Louise Nevelson in Process. 28 min., color, 16 mm & videocassette. 

Helen Frankenthaler. 28 min., color, 16 mm & videocassette. 

Mary Cassatt-Impressionist from Philadelphia. 28 min., color, 16 mm & vide'o. 

Spirit Catcher-The Art of Betye Saar. 28 min., color, 16 mm & videocassette. 

Anonymous Was a Woman. 28 min., color, 16 mm & video cassette. 


20th CENTURY WOMEN ARTISTS. Rosenthal Art Slides. 5456 S. Ridge Court, Chicago, IL 

WOMEN ARTISTS. Janelle Reiring. Slide lecture. SL9, $100. Art Information 
Distribution, P.O. Box 757, Cooper Station, New York 10003. 



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